The Difference Between Acupuncture Headaches
Both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine recognize Acupuncture Headaches and Migraines. The two types are primary and secondary. Primary headaches include tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches include those caused by another medical condition or structural problems in the head or neck.
Headaches are one of the most common conditions people seek medical care for. Approximately 90% of adults will experience tension headaches and about 12% will experience migraines. Acupuncture has a long-standing reputation for successfully treating headaches and migraines.
Tension Headache Symptoms
- A pain that begins in the back of the head and upper neck as a band-like tightness or pressure.
- Described as a band of pressure encircling the head with the most intense pain over the eyebrows.
- The pain is usually mild (not disabling) and bilateral (affecting both sides of the head).
- Not associated with an aura (see below) and are not associated with nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light and sound.
- Moderate to severe pain, which may be confined to one side of the head or may affect both sides
- Head pain with a pulsating or throbbing quality
- Pain that worsens with physical activity
- Pain that interferes with your regular activities
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- May be preceded by an aura (change in visual field including blind spots or flashes of color)
Tension Headaches Causes
Most tension headaches are caused by a tightening of muscles covering the skull. When these muscles (and those that insert into the base of the skull like the trapezius) become tight, they contract and spasm causing pain. Stress, anxiety, depression, poor posture, sitting at a desk for long periods, arthritis in the neck, TMJ, and heavy coughing/sneezing can lead to a tightening of these muscles and subsequent tension headaches. Additionally, researchers are now linking low endorphin levels to tension headaches.
The exact cause of migraines is still unknown. However, researchers are now linking them to a drop in serotonin levels and an increase in neuropeptides which lead to vasodilation of the meninges (outer covering) of the brain. This vasodilation is what causes the intense pain of a migraine.
Other triggers to common migraines include:
- Hormonal Changes- Fluctuations and drops in estrogen in women
- Foods- Alcohol, sugar, aged cheese, fermented foods, chocolate, aspartame, MSG, caffeine, and skipping meals
- Stress- Including during stressful periods and as they resolve
- Sensory Stimuli- Bright lights, sunglare, perfumes, smoke, and paint thinners
- Sleep Pattern Changes- Not enough, too much, or poor quality
- Physical Factors- Intense physical activity
- Environmental Changes- Weather, season, altitude level, barometric pressure or time zone
- Medications- Vary by individual
Traditional Chinese Medical Treatment for Migraines & Headaches
Acupuncture has been deemed an effective treatment for headaches & migraines for thousands of years. Additionally, it is completely natural, safe, minimally invasive, and has no side effects.
At Botanica Wellness Sanctuary, we combine a few different styles of acupuncture to provide the best results possible for tension headache pain. By releasing tight muscles covering the skull and those attaching to it, stimulating acupoints for pain control and low endorphin levels, and bringing the body out of a stressed (or “fight or flight” state), we can provide a great amount of relief and prevention for tension headaches.
Our treatments for migraines are aimed at decreasing the vasodilation causing the intense throbbing pain. Unlike treatments for tension headaches, acupoints on the skull and/or neck are not used as they increase vasodilation to the area. Instead, acupoints near the feet and those to control pain are stimulated. Additionally, nutritional and herbal therapies are also utilized to address the trigger and root imbalance associated with the condition.